Fall of powerful males has been a long time coming

By Tom Allon

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once famously said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice” to describe his belief that the only constant in life is change.

We are living in head-spinning times, where it’s very hard to keep up with who is up and who is down. There seems to be a daily downfall of once-mighty public figures in politics, entertainment, media, and other high-profile industries.

Sometimes the fall from the top is less dramatic than the revolving door of sexual harassers who are piling up each day.

Recently, City & State magazine (of which I am president and publisher) featured former U.S. Attorney Preet Bahrara on the cover with the headline: “Loser of the Year?”

Just 15 months earlier, Bahrara graced the same magazine cover after he was chosen as “The Newsmaker of the Decade” because he had transformed the New York political world with his crusading convictions of the two most powerful legislative leaders in the state: Shelly Silver and Dean Skelos.

But in early 2017, the new president relieved Bahrara of his duties. The high-flying prosecutor was shorn of his sharp wings and he was now an ordinary citizen.

Even more humbling, later in the year his high-profile convictions of Silver and Skelos were overturned by an Appelate Court. Bahrara’s corruption-busting legacy was left in tatters.

And then, of course, there is the dramatic downfall of two Democratic legislators — Sen. Al Franken and Congressman John Conyers — because of sexual harassment allegations.

They are but two of the seven D.C. casualties thus far in this harassment exfoliation of Congress. There will surely be many more in the coming weeks and months.

In the entertainment world, we have watched in amazement as Hollywood honcho Harvey Weinstein’s career and reputation has gone down in flames. He will likely be fitted for an orange jumpsuit in the near future if any of the allegations are pursued by law enforcement.

In television-land, two of the big morning shows were rocked by the heinous stories of predation and intimidation by Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose. Both of their careers have gone down the tubes and they will be better served by employing fake mustaches and clever disguises if they want to go out in public again.

The media world has been rocked perhaps the most as we’ve seen a New York Times reporter who covers the White House get suspended for “inappropriate conduct” and the NPR national director get dismissed for his suspected lewd behavior.

Louis CK, the famous comedian, was outed for pleasuring himself publicly and an editor at The Paris Review was run out of town for creating a toxic work environment.

All of these men were at the top of their professional game until just a few weeks ago and now they are the butt of jokes by others.

Well, I guess turnabout is fair play as they say.

The falling of these powerful male dominoes has to be gratifying for all those in society who have been subjected to abuse or ridicule from their male bosses. One hopes that it’s just not celebrity men — but also Wall Street titans down to restaurant managers, who are fretting that some of their sordid past doesn’t topple them, too.

I believe that this long overdue backlash has been facilitated by two new phenomenon: the election to the Oval Office of a true misogynist and the rise of social media.

Both of these things have allowed many women to find their voice and their courage to finally speak out.

Their message is loud and clear: The era of creepy male domination in the workplace is nearing its end.


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This will be my last column for awhile as I turn my energy into writing a book that has been germinating in my head for years.

Thanks for reading and I hope to reappear in these pages (if my editor will allow me back) in 2019.

Tom Allon is the president of City & State.

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